‘We deserve better’ – NC State players react to Holiday Bowl cancellation

NC State

North Carolina State quarterback Aaron McLaughlin leaves the field after their loss against Wake Forest in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Winston-Salem, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SAN DIEGO (WNCN) – They did everything they were supposed to. They worked hard and they won enough games to earn their place. They avoided problematic situations, and despite all this, the North Carolina State football team is still headed home.

It is a gut punch to a program that was trying to get that elusive 10th win. Getting the news just five hours before kickoff came as a surprise. N.C. State had no idea UCLA was having so many COVID-19 problems.

The Bruins’ defensive line was hit hard with COVID-19 issues. Sources said they were down to just two interior defensive linemen on Monday and were going to play a converted linebacker as the backup nose guard.

N.C. State tweeted out the obvious, saying: “Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season. We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.”

The players took a more direct approach. Lineman Grant Gibson tweeted, “Real pain man”

Quarterback Devin Leary said, “Ain’t no way…”

But quarterback Aaron McLaughlin summed it up best: “Our team has been away from family and friends for a month prepping for this. We have been here for 5 days practicing, were in a hotel for Christmas just for it to be canceled 5 hours before kickoff? We deserve better at this point it’s not the game, it’s the messed-up holidays for literally every single person involved in this, on both ends. ucla and nc state.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time COVID-19 has stepped in to end the season of an N.C. State team. Last summer, positive tests forced the Wolfpack baseball team to forfeit their final game and keep them from a shot at making the College World Series.

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